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S&T Trends
An All-of-Science Approach to Public Health
Khor Swee Kheng, Asma Ismail



Previous pandemics in the modern era were never long, severe or widespread enough to stimulate an all-of-science approach to beating them. SARS essentially ended after only several months in 2003, H1N1 caused approximately 18,000 deaths in 2009~2010, and Ebola was concentrated in West Africa in 2014~2016 and in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2019~2020. During these pandemics, the medical sciences fought back through genomic research, vaccine development  and new treatments, but their limited nature did not trigger a response from non-medical branches of science. 


COVID-19 is a much more severe pandemic, with no end in sight, more than a million deaths already, and affecting every country in deep ways. As a result, more branches of science are getting involved in the pandemic response, such as transport engineering, fluid mechanics, mathematical modelling and even astronomy. 


While politicians close borders to curb the spread of COVID-19, researchers in the medical and non-medical areas are breaking borders by communicating and working on the solution for COVID-19. This is on top of the decade-long partnership in pandemic responses between economists, sociologists and behavioral psychologists with public health experts and doctors. This all-of-science response is both necessary and admirable. However, such energetic responses can and should be harnessed in several ways to fully maximize the benefits. This article proposes three over-arching principles for country-level governments and the self-governing global science community to consider. 


COVID-19, Public Health, Pandemic